They’ve been trying to trade him. They may have missed their window to maximize the return. So what will the 49ers do with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo?
It’s a complicated situation, to put it mildly. He’s due to make more than $25 million in the final year of his current contract. He’s recovering from shoulder surgery. Last year, the 49ers invested three first-round picks and a third-rounder in Trey Lance. They’ve also given a one-year, $2 million contract to Nate Sudfeld, a clear signal that he’ll potentially be the backup to Lance.
We’d heard the 49ers had been telling interested teams they have an offer of two second-round picks. If they did, they should have taken it. If they did, they surely don’t have it now.
At some point, they may have nothing. Even if they do, is it a team Garoppolo will want to join? If the new team wants him to extend his contract as part of the trade, will he decline? He’s got leverage.
So do the 49ers. With none of the money guaranteed, they can squat on him until the eve of the start of the regular season, waiting for an injury elsewhere to create an immediate need for Garoppolo or ultimately cutting him.
The sooner they move on, the sooner they’ll clear $25 million in cap space. That can be diverted to other players who have earned second deals, such as Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel. They’ll also officially commence the process of persuading the rest of the locker room to pivot from the popular Garoppolo to Lance.
There’s one other possibility. They could keep him. They could even re-do his deal to convert some of the money he’s due to earn into incentives, based on playing time and/or performance. Let him compete. If he’s better than Lance, let him play.
Lance is the great unknown in this analysis. Only coach Kyle Shanahan knows if he’s ready to entrust the offense to Lance. If Shanahan is, goodbye Jimmy. If Shanahan has doubts, and if they can’t get a good return for Garoppolo, maybe they keep him for another year.
However it plays out, there aren’t many open seats on the quarterback carousel. The Texans stand out the most. The Panthers remain unsettled. The Falcons are a possibility, too. The Seahawks could be a destination, if the 49ers are willing to trade him in the division.
It’s definitely a conundrum for the 49ers. With the league convening over the next few days in Florida for the first in-person annual meetings since 2019, maybe the 49ers can finally find a willing taker for Garoppolo, at an acceptable price. If not, the next move is anyone’s guess.